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Participants 513,340
US$ 134,848,708
Nets 51,539,994

Introduction of smartphone technology to collect distribution data

Summary
Our distribution of 676,000 nets in Kasai Occidental in partnership with IMA World Health (IMA) is our first one using smartphone technology for data collection. We see this as an exciting development with significant potential benefits including:
  • Acts against potential theft
  • Improved accountability
  • Greater transparency
  • Greater data accuracy
  • Improved cost effectiveness
  • Additional data can be collected
  • Reduced operational risk
The use of this technology may become a significant determinant of future net distributions that we fund. We will report publicly on our experience with the Kasai Occidental distribution and the data gathered.
 
Detail 
IMA is using smartphones and open source software (which is free) to manage the data collection associated with the distribution of 676,000 LLINs in Kasai Occidental in DRC.
 
Gathering household level data, primarily the number of sleeping spaces in each household, but potentially the number of people and perfectly usable LLINs, as well as other profile data, is necessary if the aim is coverage of all sleeping spaces in a distribution zone.  
 
Paper based data collection is a common approach. However, if the data is not subsequently put in electronic form, it is difficult to check independently and monitor. There can be data loss risks if copies are not made and copying many thousands of pieces of paper can be challenging and costly. If data is put in electronic form, data-checking and sharing for independent monitoring can then happen. This latter approach has been our way of operating.
 
The use of smartphone technology, with data uploaded daily via wifi at health centres, removes many steps in the data management process and facilitates sharing of information. Early indications are of significant cost savings versus paper based gathering.
GPS data for net distribution. Courtesy: IMA World Health
 
GPS information can also be gathered helping to locate households and tie the number of nets delivered to each.
   
Use of this technology has the following potential benefits:
  • Acts against potential theft
    - Detailed household data underpins a distribution making theft at all levels difficult/potentially immaterial
  • Improved accountability
      - Data captured at registration and distribution is easily accessible and underpins post-distribution monitoring
  • Greater transparency
    - Easy to capture data which can be shared widely, including publicly
    - GPS data offers engaging/effective way of sharing information with donors using maps
  • Greater data accuracy
    - Simple data entry via tap screen, with quantitative and menu-driven answers
    - Error checking as data entered (for example, if more nets hung than sleeping spaces recorded, error shown)
  • Improved cost effectiveness
    - Fewer data management steps
    - Assuming familiarity with smartphones, minimum training is needed to use the data collection app
    - Open source software, so free. NB: Other commercial systems may be expensive and our sense is this has inhibited uptake.
  • Additional data can be collected
    - GPS data recorded for each household with ~6 metre average accuracy
    - Photos of household/householder/nets
  • Reduced operational risk
    - Lowers/removes risk of costly problems through data loss when only one paper copy of data exists 
Our understanding is that few are using this technology at present. The reasons may be two-fold. First, until recently most technology-led data collection solutions were supplied by commercial companies and were costly, inhibiting uptake. Second, some believe the collection of household level data in not necessary, and is either prohibitively expensive or operationally difficult. We would disagree on both counts. We do expect there may be teething problems with the use of the technology and we will report openly on what we find.